The excavator taking down walls and rooftops Thursday at the corner of Oak and Fry streets is one of the last pieces to a swift effort by the city of Denton to refurbish a highly visible residential corner near the University of North Texas campus.
A city board threatened to condemn the property in February. In a confrontational public meeting, Bobby Naderi, a co-owner of the property at 1226 W. Oak St., was accused by city officials and some residents of neglecting apartment units and their tenants. Some later said Naderi and others who managed the property deliberately ignored their maintenance requests for years.
In November, city officials began making inspections and keeping closer notes on the physical state of the property. The Denton Police Department even provided crime statistics, calling the property a public safety issue. By spring, a city board had given Naderi 90 days to invest in the property and bring it up to code, or the city would demolish the buildings.
Naderi chose to sell when Verus Real Estate’s Greg Johnson came in to broker a deal. It was noted on earlier property tax records that Naderi had thought about trying to sell the property to UNT. Testifying in probate court last week, Johnson said Verus ran a competitive bidding war for the property, which sits in the shadow of the student-apartment complex U Centre at Fry Street.
Though it did not have to demolish the buildings itself, the city will see the property rebuilt and upgraded. Johnson said the new owners, Struga Management, will resurrect the property into a new apartment complex of about 60 single units.
Dozens of tenants, many who lived there because the rent was so cheap, said they had no idea Naderi was in trouble with the city. They were evicted. Some of them then had trouble getting leases at other locations because of their renter histories at the West Oak Street property.
Naderi sold the property when Verus Real Estate brokered a deal that was finally approved last week in probate court. After the $850,000 sale was inked, its new owner rolled out the excavator Wednesday and began taking walls down Thursday.
Naderi owed taxes on the property for years, in part because he was “erroneously granted” a religious tax exemption by the Denton Central Appraisal District. He also owed the IRS.
Before the sale was finalized, it had to be untangled by Denton County Probate Judge Bonnie Robison. Naderi was only the co-owner. The other owner, Naderi’s brother, died in 2007. Money is not only owed to Naderi but to other heirs as well. Robison allowed the sale to go through, so long as the money would be held in the court until it could be sorted out.